Interactional linguistics

Jan Lindström
Table of contents

In the dawn of the twenty-first century, interactional linguistics was recognized as a new, internationally emerging direction in the field of linguistics. While most adherents of this direction are heavily influenced by the methodology of conversation analysis (CA), interactional linguists have backgrounds in and orientations to a diversity of traditions, including discourse analysis, (interactional) sociolinguistics, anthropological linguistics, (discourse) functional linguistics, construction grammar, and grammaticalization theory. It is thus fair to say that interactional linguistics is interdisciplinary within linguistics but also connected to other sciences, in the first place sociology (Selting & Couper-Kuhlen 2001). The unifying perspective is to describe linguistic structures and meanings as they serve social goals in naturally occurring spoken, in a broad sense, conversational language, viz. ‘talk-in-interaction’. In this perspective, linguistic structures are seen as resulting from the practical needs of (repeated) interaction(s) as well as giving form to (particular) interaction(s), thus providing a trajectory of an on-going interaction for the speakers. From the point of view of pragmatics, research in interactional linguistics contributes to an empirically based understanding of language use and the dependency of linguistic form on social action, and vice versa.

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